01 December 2008


You do have to wonder about what some people do, but still I’d like to know:

Why put on a pair of smart new (usually black) shoes or boots and leave the whopping great white price stickers on the soles for the rest of us to see?

Why stand on a cliff edge or go up a church tower if you know you can’t stand heights and don’t have to be there?

Or continue watching a television programme or reading a book that offends?

Why break the news of your parent’s death to a family friend by inscribing it in a birthday card you send them, especially when prefaced “I know you won’t like to hear it this way, but…”

Why stop the minute you step off an escalator? It’s about as sensible as slamming on the brakes on a motorway, especially without checking who’s behind – what are they supposed to do to stop being moved forward? For those behind the one who suddenly stops, it’s frightening enough on a short escalator (in a department store, for example) and bloody terrifying on a long one, like some of the London Underground ones. And infinitely worse going up, of course – much further to fall. And before anyone says it, in my experience it never is people with e g mobility difficulties or small children who are the perpetrators.

Why tell a secret to someone at the top of your voice in public? An extreme version of this is the person who feigns sick leave and then brags about it on the web, or even worse, the person who is being interviewed for television, and naively adds at the end of some indiscreet comment “But I could never tell my mother/ husband/ employer/ whoever” – oh, right, but haven’t you just done that? Even if they’re not watching, somebody will tell them. It’s not advisable to assume nobody can understand you, just because you’re not speaking the language of the country you’re in, or you’re with non-natives. Yelling secrets to somebody above the noise of the tube or train isn’t terribly bright, either: “Do you know X?” ”Ooh, yes, I had a fling with him once – but don’t tell anybody!!!” Don’t tell anybody? Don’t tell anybody???? She’s just told a hundred people, but her mate’s supposed to be sworn to secrecy? Of course a carriage full of passengers doesn’t count, and it won’t mean anything to anyone. Except that it may well do…


Jilly said...

I love the bit about secrets! When I was travelling for work on mainline trains I found out some extrememly interesting things about many big name companies - not to speak of government departments! Last week on the bus home there was a girl having a mobile phone conversation with her Mum and telling her how she'd been reported to Social Services for apparently ill treating her small child. We were all intrigued and quite disappointed when she got off still talking.

NAM said...

Gossip about large companies and government departments? I can just imagine! I don't hear so much now, but at one time I regularly heard plenty of conversations about Keith's employer, among others. And yes, I always want to know the end of the story.

I must say, it was all I could do not to yell with laughter at the "Don't tell anybody!" one, she said it so seriously - a bit like the people who tell obvious lies to the person they're ringing on their mobiles, always with complete gravity and as though the rest of us can't hear.